The short story
A backlink (also known as 'incoming links' or 'inbound links') is a link on a webpage, one you may own or usually somewhere else, that links to your target webpage or website.
To contextualize it: at hubpages a backlink is an incoming link to your hub. A link at another site, that leads to your hub.
In terms of the search engine optimization (SEO), the more backlinks you have to your hub (or webpage or website) the more popular it is (and therefore important). Some search engines use the number of backlinks as a part of their ranking algorithm.
Organic Vs Self Promotion
An important factor for most search engines to determine a website's search engine ranking is the number of backlinks that the website has.
These backlinks can come about either naturally or on purpose. To do so naturally means that other sites: blogs, cool sites, forums, will have people posting a link to your site. Usually because the information is useful or unique. This of course requires no effort on your part.
The other obvious upside (apart from the fact that you haven't spent any time doing it) is that word of mouth can be viral (if one person tells two people, and those people tell two people, and so on, it profilerates quickly) and it's also honest. It's not you talking up your own work, it's someone else vouching for you.
When it comes to self-promotion, caution should be followed when creating backlinks on purpose. As the uninitiated or unknowing may invariably SPAM forums, link lists, guestbooks, social bookmarking sites and other online avenues. This could lead to bannings, backlash and also gaining a bad reputation.
Some sites are more highly valued than others. Google has what is called PageRank. It's separate to Googles ranking of webpages on their Search Engine.
PageRank is Google's assessment of the importance of the page you're viewing. You can see the PageRank display if you install the Google Toolbar.
The higher the ranking, the more authoritative the site. Getting a PageRank (or PR) of 1 and 2 is easy to come by. 3 and 4 slightly harder, but for a page to get 5, 6 or 7 they must be doing something right. 8 or higher and it's serious business. If you want to find out more about PageRank then the Wiki article is a good place to start. A lot of people have their own theories and opinions. No doubt you'll come up with your own, but at least get a good understanding on the background and basics before you start speculating.
In addition to social bookmarking sites and other means of acquiring a quick backlink to your hub, also consider other article publishing sites. It will of course take longer to write a whole article rather than just a blurb, but it'll give plenty for Search Engines to consider. Also if it's at another community based site you have a chance of dipping into a fresh stream of traffic.
If all you're after is the SEO effect then your articles links being nofollow will be of importance to you, but if the article itself can 1) earn you money and 2) get real people clicking through, then 2 outta 3 ain't bad.
Don't, whatever you don't, just republish your existing article and throw in a link to the very same article. It won't be doing your visitor any favors. They have, after all, just read the article. Why would they want to click through and see the exact same thing? So I often write an article dealing with a different aspect. Or for instance, If I want have a hub on Julius Caesar, I publish an article on his heir Augustus somewhere else, and when Julius Caesar is mentioned in the article I can highlight his name, and link through to the hub.
I know as a web surfer that's what I like to see. An educational ride that will increase my knowledge. Be good to your audience. They're the ones that might end up clicking on the contextual ads or buy a product. And that's why you're doing this whole backlinking thing anyway.
How Can I Increase My Backlinks?
We've mentioned a few ways, here I'll list them. No doubt there are more, if you've got an idea of one or a favorite method, share it with the rest of us in the Comments below.
- Social Bookmarking Sites
- Starting your own Blog
- Publish other Articles
- Leave an honest and heartfelt comment on a persons Guestbook. But avoid posting any links in the comment, rely only on the one that is requested along with your name and email address.
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